The following are bits of text, mostly in English, observed in and around Tokyo and photographed on a mobile phone. Some are unintentionally amusing, others downright baffling. In some cases, the text is a design element used for decorative purposes, while others are sincere but unsuccessful attempts to communicate to English-readers.
The results are sometimes hilarious, but our intention is not to poke fun at the authors; the same phenomenon happens in reverse when Japanese text is used abroad. We used to regularly see a young man on the bus in Ireland with a nice jacket emblazoned with the bizarre fragment “this building site is…” English looks cool, just like kanji does to some Westerners, who inadvertently get words like “pig” tattooed on their bodies or buy clothes with “death from overwork” printed on them.
Enjoy the pictures.
Delicious and wealthy chicken
Feel the difference hole
Refrain from only of use toilet
Cephalopod in Galician sauce.
It’s erementary, my dear Watson.
Good, evil and beyond
Spunky Gold cocktails, anyone?
Creepy cherry blossoms
Park your car in the galage and visit the garally
Pick up a roaf of blead from the bakely
Yeah, let’s do it!
Marx and Piketty come here for a cuppa and a chat
Pablo Iglesias washes his hair with this
No frolicking on the escalators
Information in English? My a..e
What are you doing about carbon emissions? Taking zero action.
Fucked-up but happy egg with wings
Four chocolate-covered cats
Toilet technology guidance. When you urinate…
Drag your daily necessities around in that suite case of yours
Days with lovetoxic
Nudy face wash
Not for men, or what?
Country bumpkins in Daikanyama
Not a mistake but an interesting word
The soup is a little worse, so I won’t say anything. What the Japanese text says is to tell the cook if you would like less stock.
Delectable objects with no boundaries. There is no border in a delicious thing.
I will, once I have handed in my used tableware. The word 食器 has disappeared from the translation, which should read “Return your tableware here.”
Titty & Co. This wonderfully named women’s fashion brand seem to do almost everything but lingerie. http://tittyandco.net/
Pizz Cube Cafe. The ice cubes in the coffee look and smell a bit odd. Is this for real, or are they taking the pizz?
Universal design toilet. A contribution to the debate on universalism vs. latrinary relativism.
Bestiola. Bestial stationery.
Would Tony Blair agree with Tony Bear that it feels good to very cold?
Aloe yoghurt “for beauty body”
Eat some of this body keep jelly to prevent disembodiment.
Don’t throw away it, you will pay dearly.
Cram. What Japanese students do. Now honey-flavoured to sweeten the learning experience.
Hair cloning? Some kind of genetic hair regrowth therapy, perhaps?
Labia bicycle. Rodukenashiko was not allowed to make a vagina-shaped boat, but the obscenity laws seem not to cover bicycles.
A wide range of activities as daily space… A car with a name that sounds like an Irish village and text that looks randomly generated.
Argentinian shrimps grilled in the Caribbean and served in Tokyo. They catch the shrimps off Tierra del Fuego, fly them to a beach in Barbados, grill them and send them to Japan.
Ham, potato, basil and spinach with phosphorus.
Roast beef with imagination sauce. Does that mean no sauce? Imagined sauce? Imaginary sauce?
Herbal enjoyment, dyeing and drying
Festive wear (お祝い着): I want to decorate memories
Something rotten in the state of Denmark
Enter and drop the dirt of shoes.
Aerial snack. Can also be used to receive radio signals.
An instruction to one persistent motorcyclist. Don’t park here, Mr. Honda.
Drunken French kissing has been known to take place in bars
A colourful waffle design enables you to coordinate your self-love in the toilet. Mysterious.
The soup lost its fragrance after being baked.
Does this mean that drink will flow freely for exactly one month and 30 minutes?
Photos are images. Don’t try to eat them, they’re not the real thing.
“Civic hall” would be more accurate, but “inhabitants of a ward hall” is much more charming.
Satanic terrorists from Koenji with a rude message.
Handwritten fiction seems to be acceptable, though.
Seen in Barcelona. Sexy 9 love bath.
You have been warninged.
Dr. Bond. Agent 007 with a licence to heal.
If you take care of your chest, abdomen and so on, the council will do what it can to promote illegal parking.
Eat, drink and be Jerry. Drink Jerry: He contains 11 different types of vitamins.
If you want to write letters in our shop, you will have to pay taxes.
I want to fight only meaningful. A meaningless text with the word meaningful in it. Is this some kind of sophisticated ironic trick?
We forbid neglect of discard.
Flash your passport.
A boy in love with minced meat. Polymorphous perversity.
Bovine canines and perambulant cigarettes are prohitibed in this park. Flying pigs seem to be allowed, though.
Don’t annoy someone by playing baseball, golf, yadda, yadda, yadda…
Do not peddle.
Bigotry on wheels. Living up to the white van man stereotype.
How do you bring staff the noodle if you have left it?
Classtation. A bicycle that makes the rider feel “classtated”?
Free join. The guide may be perfect, but the English looks a bit dodgy.
Italiano gerato. Ice cleam Itarian. Syntax and spelling was dubious, but the ice cream itself was good.
Orthodox is reprehend. Heterodox must be laud, then.
One hopes their governance is better than their spelling. Otherwise, it looks bleak for the Tokyo Metroporis.
Delicious dog. It actually contains a pork sausage, no yummy puppy.
Grafitti at US embassy. A diplomat unhappy with their posting making their views set in concrete.
Ant caviar. Insect eggs as party food.
Salvation by renovation. God is a real estate developer. http://michelleshocked.com/ears/lyrics/god-is-a-real-estate-developer/
I tell you, that doctor is mental.
Don’t flash anything other than toilet paper. Definitely don’t flash or flush a torch down the toilet.
NO. feces and urine.
These tendons look inviting, don’t they? With the wrong mushrooms and trabecula fritters.
By no revision, the sentence became very difficult to make sense of.
Nonchalant prejudice. Is she announcing that she is guilty of casual racism?
Quasi-designer interior. Designed by a student, or what is a quasi-designer?
The finest ham, presented with confidence.
Aoyama La Puta Garden. Not a place to bring your family.
This seems to say that existence is defined by the ability to reflect light – reflexio ergo sum. Are they putting Descartes before the horse here?
According to the Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary: “masculine noun (Spain) [colloquial] [offensive] fag (US) [slang] [offensive] queer [slang] [offensive]”
Electric money. Is the transaction made by wire transfer?
Brunch office. Before they corrected it, they were baffled by the number of foreigners who came in to order coffee and a full English breakfast.
What chocolate? Don’t assk how it is made.
Enjoy her at a discount. 50% off.